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She's the investigator with an eye for truth...and a nose for trouble.
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Wild Card (also known as Zoe Busiek: Wild Card) is a Canadian-American coproduced comedy-drama series. It stars Joely Fisher (who previously played Paige in Ellen) as Zoe Busiek, a former blackjack dealer whose sister is killed in a hit-and-run, leading her to return home, become the legal guardian of her nieces and nephew, and use her skills at reading people and deduction as a newly-hired insurance fraud investigator. It was broadcast in the United States on Lifetime, and on the Global Television Network in Canada from August 2003 to July 2005, lasting two seasons.

Not to be confused with the trope, the comic book miniseries, or the play-by-post roleplay.

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Tropes:

  • Cliffhanger: Most episodes are self-contained, but Season 1 Episode 4, "Hell Week", ends with the deadbeat father of Zoe's nieces and nephew showing up, which plays a major role in the following episode.
  • Closed Circle: In Season 2 Episode 14, "Catch You Later, Investigator", a bereaving mother has accused the insurance office of blackmailing her by withholding evidence that could free her wrongly imprisoned son, and Zoe's boss refuses to let anyone leave until the mystery is solved. The only other location seen in the episode is Zoe's house, to show how her nieces and nephew are taking care of themselves.
  • Compensated Dating: Season 1 Episode 7, "The Cheese Stands Alone", has multiple businesses (including a cheesery) file for compensation after an electrical surge in their building. One of these is a dating service that lost their financial data, but it turns out they've been paying men to "match" with female users, and the claim is denied due to false pretenses.
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  • Dead Person Impersonation: Season 1 Episode 2, "The Learning Curve", focuses on Zoe investigating her first fraud assignment when the house of a community activist, Marilyn Lee, burns down and takes Marilyn's sister's life alongside many of her possessions. However, Marilyn has adapted far too well to moving into her sister's house, doesn't know the true value of what she's claiming insurance for, and has completely forgotten about her medical prescriptions, leading Zoe to deduce that the sister stole Marilyn's identity and committed arson to make Marilyn's body unrecognizable.
  • Easy Amnesia:
    • When the sorority pledge awakens from her lion attack-induced coma in "Hell Week", she has retrograde amnesia and is unable to confirm that her actions were due to her sorority's initiation.
    • Season 2 Episode 8, "Die, Die, Who Am I?", focuses on Zoe taking a pro-bono case for an amnesiac man trying to put his life back together while he's being stalked by a mysterious assailant. It's eventually revealed that said amnesia was caused by falling down some stairs during a struggle with said assailant.
  • Exact Words:
    • In "Hell Week", Zoe uses the phrase "what if I told you" when referring to an incriminating guitar pick to get the culprit to panic, without actually having said pick.
    • In "Dearly Beloved", Zoe shows the culprit a long hair that she says she found at the scene of the crime to provoke a confession, without revealing that it's Zoe's hair.
  • Faking the Dead: Season 1 Episode 6, "Dead Again", has Zoe and Dan investigate the past of a recently-deceased man who was already declared dead, and had a life insurance payout, three years ago. After investigating, it turns out he was an embezzler, and faked a boating accident with help from his friend Gordon.
  • Former Teen Rebel: Zoe had a rather wild life before settling into her current situation, which her eldest niece frequently tries to use as leverage to get away with her own rebellious acts.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Season 1 Episode 5, "Dearly Beloved", has its central plot being who sabotaged a $300,000 garden wedding. In the end, it's revealed to be the bridesmaid, who had dated the groom before he left her for her friend, the bride.
  • Happily Adopted: Although initially reluctant to have their aunt become their guardian after their mother passes, Zoe's nieces and nephew quickly warm up to her.
  • How We Got Here: The Season 2 finale, "Zoe's Phony Matrimony", starts with Zoe at a wedding altar with Dan. Zoe then narrates a scene from three weeks earlier depicting a wedding planner being murdered, and the majority of the episode is how Zoe and Dan decided to pose as an engaged couple in order to investigate the key suspects. In the final scene of the episode, realizing she and Dan actually got married in the process, she starts to do this in-universe.
  • Infraction Distraction: Season 2 Episode 6, "Wham Bam, Thank You Dan", features Zoe and Dan investigating a string of jewelry thefts. They manage to prevent the final heist, but it seems like a female thief escaped...until they discover that the whole thing was a cover to steal some software being developed in the same building that the jewels were kept in, and they intercept the thief at the airport after learning where the software was supposed to be sent.
  • Initiation Ceremony: One goes horribly wrong in "Hell Week", with the episode's case revolving around a sorority pledge who broke into a zoo, fell into a lion's den, and fell comatose. The twist is that it went wrong due to the pledge's boyfriend, who is really her ex-boyfriend that felt jilted and pushed her in, with the fact that she's forgotten breaking up with him a bonus.
  • Love Triangle:
    • In the first season, the Unresolved Sexual Tension between Zoe and Dan is further complicated by another coworker, Marcos, who's had a crush on Zoe since they attended high school together. This is no longer an issue in the second season, due to Marcos' departure.
    • "Catch You Later, Investigator" has one of the potentially traitorous coworkers flirt with Zoe in the hopes that she'll join him and another female coworker he's flirted with in starting their own agency. The other coworker is rather miffed when learning about this.
  • No Medication for Me: Season 1 Episode 12, "Black Sheep", has members of the "New Shepherd" religious movement refuse medical treatment due to their beliefs. Zoe and Dan are investigating a member that crashed his used car into his own house during a blackout caused by untreated diabetes. It only gets more complicated when it turns out his wife is a Black Widow whose previous husbands, also New Shepherds, were never autopsied.
  • Office Romance: All of Zoe's major love interests are coworkers at the insurance agency she works for.
  • One-Letter Name: Zoe and Dan's new boss in Season 2, Matilda Pearl McGuire, prefers to just be referred to as "M".
  • Parental Abandonment: In addition to Zoe's nephew and nieces losing their mother in the pilot, the fifth episode of season 1, "Dearly Beloved", reveals that their father is a deadbeat that abandoned the family, but has returned to pay respects and try to make amends. Zoe considers signing over legal guardianship to him while he's back, only for him to skip town again by the end of the episode.
  • Put on a Bus: Zoe's coworkers Marcos Morales and Sophia Mason leave at the start of the show's second season, with the latter (who had been promoted to Zoe's boss) being replaced by M. Pearl McGuire.
  • Reformed Criminal: Dan Lennox, one of Zoe's coworkers, was a former Con Artist who ended up in major debt and going straight after a scam gone wrong. His skill at reading people has helped in his new line of work.
  • Saying Too Much: "Catch You Later, Investigator" ends with the blackmailing traitor in the insurance office being outed due to his knowledge of an inscription on the bottom of a trophy in a locked display case, and said case containing the evidence that proves the mother's son innocent (a bloodstained trophy).
  • "Scooby-Doo" Hoax: Season 1 Episode 10, "Spooked", has a vandalized house suspected of being haunted. It turns out to be a hoax perpetuated by a neighbor to hide the fact that he murdered his brother and hid the body in the property.
  • Sinister Minister: The murderous, jewel-stealing culprit of the Season 2 finale, "Zoe's Phony Matrimony", is (as stated by Zoe's opening narration) the minister that's officiating Zoe and Dan's wedding.
  • Struggling Single Mother: Zoe, who takes care of her nephew and nieces all by herself after becoming their legal guardian, though she sometimes receives a bit of assistance from Dan and her other coworkers. Zoe's sister was also this, as learned in "Dearly Beloved" when it's shown that the father of her children is a deadbeat.
  • Suicide by Assassin: The twist towards the end of "Die, Die, Who Am I?", is that the amnesiac the episode focuses on couldn't afford surgery to remove a fatal brain tumor, and hired someone to make his death look like an accident so that at least his life insurance could go to a beloved...before having second thoughts, struggling against the hitman, getting amnesia due to a wound, and forgetting all about it.
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: In "Hell Week", Dan's attempts at firing Penny keep going wrong, with her confident that she's a valued employee while also using pity such as mentioning her recently-hospitalized grandmother. She ends up voluntarily quitting in the end, after being offered a better-paying job elsewhere.
  • Undercover as Lovers: In the Season 2 finale, "Zoe's Phony Matrimony", detective Leo's sister is murdered. As she was a wedding planner, Zoe and Dan pose as an engaged couple in order to investigate the key suspects. By the episode's end, they're officially married.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Nearly every episode focuses some time to the developing relationship between Zoe and Dan Lennox, a handsome ex-con and her coworker at the insurance company.
  • Unwanted Assistance: A sublot in "Hell Week" is Dan hiring a personal assistant named Penny that ends up causing nothing but frustration when she tries to be proactive in fulfilling his needs, such as by personally dealing with a caller instead of simply taking a message, and locking things in a safe that needs a replacement key.
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